Possession of a Weapon
Possession of a Weapon
If you have been charged with Possession of a Weapon other than a firearm please call or email me as soon as possible. Like nearly every other type of criminal charge, it is critical to be proactive and take some action to defend yourself before your next court date.
Rhode Island law, by statute, punishes three (3) distinct types of offenses under a single statute titled Possession of a Weapon Other Than Firearms. These three (3) different offenses are delineated as follows:
(1) The first type of offense is carrying or possessing certain types of weapons. It is not very often that someone is charged with the first type of offense. I have not come across a whole bunch of people who carry or possess these types of weapons. That said, the types of weapons that we cannot carry or possess include:
(a) Blackjack (small clubs, usually less than an arm’s length, that are easily concealable)
(b) Slingshot (somebody needs to alert the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as Slingshots are used all the time by both types of Scouts during camping activities)
(c) Billy Club (small clubs, usually less than an arm’s length, that are easily concealable)
(d) Sand Club (a simple weapon consisting of a small bag filled with sand)
(e) Sand Bag (same thing as a Sand Club)
(f) Metal Knuckles (pieces of metal shaped to fit around the knuckles designed to concentrate a punch’s force by directing it toward a smaller contact area)
(g) Slap Glove (truthfully, I have no idea what this is)
(h) Bludgeon (a short stick with one end loaded or thicker and heavier than the other end that is used as a weapon)
(i) Stun-Gun (essentially an electroshock weapon used to incapacitate a person by administering an electric shock to disrupt muscle function)
(j) Kung-Fu weapons (unless the person is a licensed martial arts instructor engaged in actual martial arts instruction).
(2) The second type of offense is possessing certain types of weapons with the intent to use them against another person unlawfully. This presupposes that it is legal to carry or possess these weapons as long as a person does not intend to use them unlawfully against someone else. These weapons include:
(a) Dagger (a fighting knife with a sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon)
(b) Dirk (a long thrusting dagger)
(c) Stiletto (a knife or dagger with a long slender blade and needle-like point, primarily intended as a stabbing weapon)
(d) Sword-in Cane (a cane that incorporates a concealable blade)
(e) Bowie Knife (any large sheath knife with a cross-guard and a clip point)
The third type of offense is wearing or carrying concealed certain types of weapons. These weapons include:
(a) All of the weapons described in the first and second types of offenses
(b) Any razor or knife that has a blade of more than three (3) inches in length measuring from the end of the handle where the blade is attached to the end of the blade.
Therefore, based on a plain reading of the Possession of a Weapon Other Than Firearms statute, the legislature has clearly intended to prevent people from carrying concealed weapons. The Rhode Island Supreme Court has also addressed this carrying concealed provision of this statute. The Court stated that the purpose of the concealed carrying provision is to protect the public from the peril of weapons when they are concealed about a person.
I grew up near a commercial and sport fishing marina. I can’t tell you how many times fishermen, especially lobstermen, would carry knives with a blade far longer than three inches, in sheaths inside their rubber boots. I still think of this all the time whenever I come across a case involving carrying concealed. Are all these people criminals? I do not think so, but a Court would probably determine otherwise.
As you may have discerned, this Possession of a Weapon Other Than Firearms statute, if interpreted literally, can produce some absurd charges. For example, according to a plain reading of this Possession of a Weapon Other Than Firearms statute it is illegal to possess a Slingshot, but it is totally legal to possess a Sword-in Cane, as long as it is not carried with the intent to be used against another person or concealed on a person’s body.
The three (3) types of criminal offenses described above are misdemeanors, which means that upon conviction, a person can be incarcerated for up to one (1) year and fined up to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00). And the weapon can be confiscated.